Seeking Integrity: Learning Integratively from Classroom Controversy
42 Southwestern Law Review 355 (2012 - 2013)
66 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2013
Date Written: June 27, 2013
The Carnegie Report* makes a compelling case that preparation for legal practice should involve learning experiences that help to integrate the three basic apprenticeships or dimensions of professional work — thinking, performing, and valuing like a lawyer. This challenge has not been ignored by the legal academy. In recent years especially, many law schools have attempted to foster learning experiences that integrate legal doctrine, lawyering skills, and professional values. These efforts span the spectrum from broad-based curricular change to the addition or revision of individual courses.
Not to be overlooked, however, are the immediate integrative learning opportunities presented by unexpected moments of classroom controversy. Many of these moments — whether they involve issues of race, gender, ethnicity, class, disability, sexual orientation, religion, patriotism, or other sensitive subjects — provide valuable opportunities for teaching critical lessons pertinent to becoming self-reflective, well-rounded, and responsible lawyers. Of course, these moments can be diverting and disruptive. But if handled with intention and care, they can be rich with learning potential to help in understanding the integrative character of professional judgment and behavior. To make the most of these moments, we provide a five-lesson framework through which to explore the issues of law, policy, critical thinking, communication and relational skills, and professional values that comprise an integrative approach to legal education.
Ultimately, this article attempts to provide both theoretical and practical assistance in maximizing the learning potential inherent in difficult classroom moments. But perhaps most importantly, it attempts to show the meaning and significance of an integrative approach to learning about lawyering by seeing these moments as vehicles to reinforce that potential. In this way, controversial moments are illustrations on a small scale of how to think about and implement integrated learning strategies on a large scale throughout the law school curriculum, even in non-controversial moments. They can be, in effect, prototypical integrative teaching and learning experiences with benefits beyond their boundaries.
*WILLIAM M. SULLIVAN, ANNE COLBY, JUDITH WELCH WEGNER, LLOYD BOND & LEE S. SHULMAN, EDUCATING LAWYERS: PREPARATION FOR THE PROFESSION OF LAW (2007).
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